Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Before and After

Early in the day Emma had long and overworked ballerina hair...twenty minutes later Emma was looking young fresh and hip with her new short hair. She was even able to donate 10 inches of her hair to Locks of Love! A new look and a good deed...what a great combination!

Finn in the News

Local talent shines in area Nutcrackers
Academy of Movement and Music provides pool of performers

By STASIA THOMPSONContributing Writer The Wednesday Journal
12/22/08 (Exerpt)
Oak Park and River Forest are considered treasure troves of youthful talent for the local dance scene.

"It's because of the Academy of Movement and Music," said Carla Graham-White, children's ballet master of the Joffrey Ballet, based in Chicago. "The students are well-prepared and top contributors."

Graham-White is in charge of children's auditions for much coveted roles in the Joffrey's "Nutcracker." It's a role she has filled for 13 seasons.
"I look for dancers who are not only technically excellent but also exhibit a love of dancing," she said, noting that 60 percent of those cast will return year after year in ascending roles. "There is a progression and dancers look forward to moving up to roles as they mature."
This year is special for Graham White, a River Forest resident. "My grandson, Ian, is performing," she said. Ian's father, her son, "chose to become an artist rather than a dancer," so she finds it very meaningful to have her grandson follow in her footsteps.
Male dancers are not as common as female.
Red-headed Arabian

One student in particular enjoyed his five minutes of fame before he was even cast in the production, which began Dec. 18 and continues past the New Year. Several TV reporters were on hand during the auditions and captured the spritely, red-haired, freckle-faced boy.
Finn Elsmo, a student at Oak Park's Irving Elementary, specifically told his mother he wasn't sure if he wanted anyone to know he was auditioning for the ballet. The avid Strikers soccer player began dancing just this year.

"He was identified as having some areas needing improvement in school, and dance was recommended as a form of therapy," said his mother, Melissa Elsmo. "So not only do I have the Academy to thank for his interest in dance, but his handwriting has also greatly improved."
Elsmo signed Finn up at the Academy, where his older sister Emma is a dancer. "Finn is in an all-boys class, which he loves," his mother says.

Much to everyone's surprise, Finn's audition was on several news stations that night. "Many people said they saw me on TV when I went to school," said Finn, "but it wasn't really a big deal."

"He is cast as the Arabian doll," his mother said. "A red-haired boy named Finn Elsmo, doesn't that just say Arabian?" she quipped. His red hair is covered by a turban, but there's an upside. "He is one of the shortest dancers, so the turban gives him some extra height."

"I like dancing but I like soccer better," said Finn. "But I would consider being a dancer when I grow up." He thinks dancing is fun and is taking his fame in stride.
"Finn is easy-going," said his mother. "He just goes with the wind."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Emma's Curtain Call

It seems only fitting that Emma and I headed to the theater for the last time...just the two of us. She has had an amazing run and a memorable experience at the Joffrey this year!
All Joffrey kids form bonds, but children in the party scene become especially close. They spend months creating make-shift families held together by choreography. Below Emma is pictured with her siblings from the run and one of her company moms!
I gave Emma these pointe shoes, signed by Meg Quiroz, as a way to show our appreciation for all her hard work this season! Meg not only played Emma's mother in several shows she also performed an amazing Sugarplum!
Thank you Emma for making our holidays grand for the third year in a row.
Time to take a bow!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Finn's last show.

Prior to the start of Finn's last performance of the Nutcracker we met up with some friends at Mercat a la Planxa for tapas and drinks. I was particularly taken with this potato dish with smoked paprika aioli.Leif's mom was supposed to attend the show today, but rainy weather prevented her from making the trip. We were disappointed she missed the show, but my friend RW was happy to take the ticket off our hands! When I called her this morning she said, "Melissa Elsmo are you calling with a surprise for me?" I was, but the strange thing was RW knew before I even said a word I was calling to offer her a ticket to the show. I guess some things are meant to be! I am also placing a call to the psychic friends network.
The show was amazing with Meg Quiroz dancing the best Sugarplum I have seen during the run. Emma danced with great personality and spirit and Finn closed out his run confidently.
As a great last show surprise Finn was greeted by his soccer teammate TJ!
Thanks Finn for all your hard work; you made our holidays special!

Wii are really sore.

The Internet is filled with claims of severe muscle soreness after playing the Nintendo Wii. All of the Elsmo Four can attest to the truth of this statement. After hours of bowling, tennis, boxing, golf, and baseball none of us feel right...back pain, arm pain, numbness...you name it. And yet we cannot stop challenging each other. In a memorable moment Leif looked at me, rubbing his upper arm, and said, "I swear this is what a MLB Pitcher goes through." One full day of Wii baseball and Leif is feeling the burn like a major league star? Wii need some perspective!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cast Party

Today Bboots laid out our homemade party favors for the Nutcracker Children's Cast Party.The kids dined on pizza and salad, danced to fun music, and generally had a great time!

Finn had a chance to meet several dancers including Emily Patterson who frequently danced the role of Arabian. She seemed to be quite taken with him and he was just a tad star struck!
Emma was able to get her picture taken with two of her party scene parents Abigail Simon and Brian Gephart.Tomorrow Finn performs for the final time and Emma with close the run with her final performance on Sunday.
It is hard to believe the show has already finished...it feels like yesterday our Nutcracker season began!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


With love from the Elsmo Four
Leif, Mel, Emma, and Finn.

Christmas Dinner

I love spending Christmas Day just the four of us...even though we always keep the day fairly low key I always cook a special Christmas dinner. In a previous entry I mentioned a fellow Joffrey Parent, Tracey. She practices sustainable farming at Grace Note Farm in Wisconsin and brought me some pretty amazing eggs, but I saved her other gift for our Christmas dinner.
Tracey also raises heritage turkeys on her property. These majestic birds differ greatly from the mammoth Butterball Turkeys that grace so many holiday tables...they are expensive to raise, take longer to mature. The have little breast meat and are prized for their superior flavor. I protected the finicky white meat with a shingle of bacon and I must admit the result was absolutely fabulous! I am not sure we'll be able to enjoy a grocery store turkey again...

Wii love this reaction!

Oh we nailed it...this was a once in a lifetime reaction!

Christmas Eve: Phase Two

After returning home from Wisconsin I quickly threw together some mango, crab and mint maki rolls and prosciutto wrapped asparagus, as we were anxious to take the Pfour up on their Christmas Eve appetizer party invitation!
Many of our close friends were there and there were also welcomed family additions...B's sister Pam , her husband and two children, as well as A's mother and father. It was a very nice group to say the least and featured plenty of delicious food. Pam's rosemary brie with pears and balsamic vinegar and A's pastry wrapped olives (recipes please!) were among my favorite bites of the night!Among other things, The Frigs brought home-made pizzelle cookies shaped into cups. In what was a fairly INTENSE operation they filled the cups with a chocolate orange mousse and candied orange peel. They looked and tasted amazing...in my experience intensity always pays off!
As the evening drew to a close the children all gathered to eat cookies and receive small gifts and favors...from there the sleepy heads went straight to bed eager to see what Santa had in store for them.
Thank you Pfour for making our day both merry and bright!

Christmas Eve: Phase One

Every Christmas my parents host a brunch brunch and gift opening for our family. My mom always puts together an amazing spread that features pretty much every favorite food of every member of our family with a little beef tenderloin on the side.
Leif and I always look forward to the Swedish meatballs most! Emma loves the fresh berries and Finn is all about the bacon. This year the buffet featured some delicious homemade lefse.With our bellies full we surrounded the Christmas tree and Finn read the special Davy the Deer story.
We all gave and received some pretty amazing gifts! Emma was blown away by her new set of slippers from Aunt A, both Emma and Finn loved giving C his new stuffed bear, and I LOVE my new set of Amuse Bouche spoons from my mom.
It was wonderful to see everyone especially since we were not sure the weather would co-operate! Thanks for having us Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Supper

My parents were supposed to come into the city to see Emma and Finn perform today, however, the weather did not co-operate and we found ourselves with two extra seats to the ballet. What to do?
Invite Finn's soccer coach of course. Leif and I love Murray and his girlfriend, Beth, is a complete delight! We enjoyed a few cocktails and fine fare at Custom House before the show. We chatted while enjoying gorgeous crab cakes with grapefruit and some pretty delicious donuts with espresso cream and bananas.
The kids performed beautifully and the show as a whole was memorable. Finn was thrilled to have his coach greet him afterwards and despite the fact my parents missed out on their Christmas gift we loved this day!

We loved this day until we returned home to realize my wallet had been stolen.

The thieves, in a matter of hours, spent every cent we had in our checking account including our (never used) over-draft protection funds.

The thieves also did some serious damage to our only credit card.

All in all we are talking thousands of dollars.

Our accounts are all on lock down and until further notice we are pretty much penniless save for the thoughtful and sporadic withdrawal of cash from savings.

Who would rob us?
What I really hate is the fact our unknown betrayers spent hundreds of dollars at Coach. I have never purchased anything at that shop and I would love a Coach bag. I hope whomever has the gift of Elsmo funded Coach and other things under their tree really finds happiness in their sudden holiday wind fall.
We have each other and that is all that matters.

Monday, December 22, 2008


This bottle was mysteriously left in my refrigerator following our holiday party.
I am certain it is a home-made bloody mary mix since there is no Mr. Yuk sticker on the bottle, but I have no idea what is in it or the proper way to use it. The mixture is really thick and filled with angry looking spices; I bet on the fact using it would make for an amazing drink!
Instructions would be great; as it looks kind of scary in it's unlabeled bottle.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friends at the Ballet

As the run of the Nutcracker continues it never ceases to amaze me just how many friends come out to support our kids. Tonight was no exception as the Shad4 and Finn's teacher Ms. T headed out to the theater on this freezing night. I reorganized my back stage schedule and purchased a ticket to watch the show. Doing so allowed me to drive Ms. T and have a great conversation with her before Emma and Finn performed. I can see why Finn is so taken with his teacher; she is a class act!

Nutcracker Magic

For the past several years our friends and fellow Nutcracker parents, Jim and Sue, threw a Nutcracker Magic Party after a performance of the show. It was was always a festive occasion with an beautiful food, fine wines, a fanciful magic show, and performance of the People's Nutcracker (performed by the parents and children)! Sadly our friends' children have out grown performing in the Nutcracker....so this year we invited them to our house to recapture a little Nutcracker Magic.
Our friends brought us the most beautiful bouquet of holiday flowers and joined a very merry crowd of our friends who have been to the Nutcracker or will be going in the coming days! Several cast members also joined the festivities with their families. Children ate cookies and made pizza while the adults drank champagne and enjoyed appetizers and then as if by magic the children began to dance.

They performed the battle scene and the entire second act...and somewhere in the middle the guys made a second beer run! At least they bought brands featuring holiday colors!

Special thanks to the Richards for making the trip in to see the show! It was great to see you both and have you share this special time with our family!

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